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Eri Yamamoto Finds the Keys to the City

SOURCE: Published: 2008-09-29
Eri Yamamoto Manhattan's landscape can change in a flash, yet even near the busiest thoroughfares, a half-forgotten pocket exists where time stands still and only the escalating beer prices alert a patron to the approximate decade. Straddle a barstool inside the musty, West Village cocoon that is Arthur's Tavern and marvel. Balloons dangle from the ceiling, slowly deflating, their candy-shop hues faded with the years. The tobacco-brown wall paneling is dotted with ratty decorations that celebrate every occasion: Cupid silhouettes for Valentine's Day, fake cobwebs for Halloween. If there's a ghost of Greenwich Village past, it probably abides here, harmonizing with the creaking furniture.

Dump that it is, Arthur's makes a great bet for jazz fans. Almost every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday for the past nine years, the pianist Eri Yamamoto has led her trio through a couple of early evening sets at the Grove Street bar. It's the sort of open-ended residency that seems rare these days, a holdover from the era when Charlie Parker would drop by and jam. Ms. Yamamoto's focused, sensitive touch and the easy flow of her rhythm section sometimes mark a brave stand against the chatter that fills the bar.


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